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Helen Lowell has baleful information to share with Lyle Talbot and new Philo Vance Warren William in THE DRAGON MURDER CASE.


(THE MONSTER MAKER), Paul Cavanaugh (HOUSE OF WAX), Arthur Hohl (THE DEVIL- DOLL), Helen Vinson (THE LADY AND THE MON- STER) and Jack LaRue (NO ORCHIDS FOR MISS BLANDISH).


First National Pictures took on the rights with H. Bruce Humberstone’s THE DRAGON MURDER CASE, which casts future Perry Mason and Lone Wolf Warren William as a fairly bluff Vance, but keeps Pallette, McWade and Girardot (“I can’t per- form an autopsy on a theory—I’m the coroner, not a philosopher”) on the payroll. As suggested by the solid but scarcely A-list William, this briefer, brisker picture downshifts the Vance property to series B sleuth level. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since this has a welcome murky air of night-time mysterioso, while dialogue is snappier and more self-consciously absurd. One partygoer muses, “Surely we can find something more amusing than watching the death throes of a fish?” Monty (TARZAN’S REVENGE’s George Meeker)—the little- liked fiancé of ingenue Bernice (Margaret Lindsay, later a regular in the ELLERY QUEEN film series)—


disappears while taking a late-night dip in a rock- pool reputed to be haunted by a dragon or water- monster of Indian legend. Thanks to claw-marks, the authorities give a surprising amount of credence to the rogue cryptid theory (“What a sweet medical report it would be if I could put down ‘Death due to dragon-scratches!’”), so this is an interesting early


entry in the Black Lagoon sub-genre—down to a three-clawed inhuman hand reaching out of the water. However, Monty has done so much jilting, blackmailing, besmirching and finagling that Vance doesn’t have too much trouble concluding some- one in this house party of monied, nasty folk has killed him. Suspects include Lyle Talbot (Luthor in ATOM MAN VS SUPERMAN), a returning Robert Barrat, George E. Stone (THE VAMPIRE BAT), Dor- othy Tree (an unbilled vampire in the 1931 DRACULA), William Davidson (MAN MADE MON- STER) and Helen Lowell (DEVIL DOGS OF THE AIR).


MGM gave Vance another A-picture shot in Edwin L. Marin’s THE CASINO MURDER CASE, casting Hungarian Paul Lukas as a stiff sleuth who


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